Thanks but no Thanks

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DAMASCUS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer to restart stalled peace negotiations with Syria was met with a decidedly low-key response from the Syrian government. On a trip to Jordan Monday, Netanyahu had proposed peace talks on all outstanding matters, but did not retract any of his many earlier statements that Israel required the Golan Heights for its security and would not return the land to Syria. Although Syria's government has not officially rejected the offer, an editorial in Tuesday's edition of Tishrin called the offer "honey-coated" but not serious. "Although Tishrin speaks for the Syrian government, its rejection is not exactly a total rejection of dialogue with the Israelis," says TIME's Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "Since there are no negotiations right now, both sides are at great liberty to say anything they want about each other, and they are. As far as the Golan is concerned, Tishrin has a point. Netanyahu says he wants unconditional dialogue while at the same time saying Israel refuses to give up the Golan Heights. He offers to negotiate about other issues, but Syria is not interested in drop by drop settlements. If it doesn't get the Golan Heights back, Syria is happy with the status quo. There is not much room for optimism that Netanyahu will change his stance." Mark Coatney